Yahoo’s first two acquisitions in the era of CEO Marissa Mayer weren’t big splashy deals as many including me had anticipated; they were modest “acqu-hires” for mobile teams. By the same token Yahoo’s launch of new apps for Yahoo Mail and Flickr, yesterday and today, are similar workmanlike updates and upgrades to core Yahoo properties.
Yahoo Mail is, from a traffic and monetization perspective, second only in importance to the Yahoo homepage, which is scheduled for a Mayer-inspired refresh as well.
In a way it’s amazing that there was no iPhone app for Yahoo Mail until yesterday. That’s something of a metaphor for how stuck Yahoo has been. Under Mayer it’s moving again. The company is now seeking to bring its core properties into the multi-platform era by creating brand-consistent, high-quality experiences on the PC, tablets and smartphone platforms.
Several years ago, when Marco Boerries ran Yahoo ‘s “Connected Life” division, the company was a global leader in mobile. However Yahoo’s position in mobile declined amid the leadership changes, takeover talks and internal turmoil of the past three years.
Now the company is playing catch up but Mayer clearly understands the need to thoughtfully mobilize Yahoo and its content.
Luckily Yahoo’s brand and usage are still strong enough to enable it to come back, provided it can get the products and user experiences right. The new Yahoo Mail apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phones are definitely a positive step in that direction.
Yahoo as a whole is like a great old hotel that is in need of a significant renovation and facelift. With these new mobile apps it appears that facelift has begun.